The Minot State volleyball team needed to get stronger heading into its inaugural season in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which includes five-time defending national champion Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.).
Coach Travis Ward said he's addressed that need with four signings announced Wednesday - Shaunessy Dauwalder and Jasmin Pappa of Stanley High School, 6-foot-2 middle hitter Tarah Dabovich from Phoenix and 6-1 middle hitter Erin Davis of Strathmore, Alberta.
"We had to get significantly more physical than we were before and we feel like we filled a lot of those needs," Ward said. "We're gonna be young, but we can play physically with some people."
Ward called the 5-foot-8 Dauwalder a "phenomenal athlete" but said she could take time to adjust to the college game. Dauwalder was a multi-sport athlete in high school and played volleyball for only part of the year, while many NSIC players compete 11 months per year, Ward said.
"What Shaunessy does when she gets into our system is gonna be awesome to watch, I'm really excited to watch it," Ward said. "How fast she picks up on the game is really unknown. The college game is so much different than the North Dakota volleyball game; it's just so much faster. I think that she's the kind of athlete that can make that happen but it's definitely a process as we see how quickly she'll pick up on it."
Davis is more experienced than Dauwalder, but Ward expects her to suffer some growing pains as well.
"She's just a strong, physical kid that's gonna show up and put some dents in the floor and probably off the back wall her freshman year," Ward said. "But she is an exciting player to watch and is probably going to grow into a tremendous player in the Northern Sun."
Ward expects both players to compete for playing time this fall. The signings of 5-11 middle hitter Pappa - the Class B Region 8 senior athlete of the year - and Dabovich were announced too close to press time to receive comment.
Women's golf team adds depth
The days of MSU golfers being assured a lineup spot are numbered.
With just five players on the women's team this year, each golfer is automatically one of the five the Beavers send to tournaments.
With the addition of three incoming freshmen, the Beavers' practices will have an added level of competition next season.
"They're so used to going and not having to worry about their spot," coach Whitney Aberle said. "Well, it's gonna be a change next year when you got three of 'em that can come and take your spot. It will be a little more difficult."
Bowman County senior Kayla Palczewski signed Wednesday, joining early signees Mackenzie Gogolin of Rosemount, Minn., and Minot High School standout Danielle Foster.
"(Kayla) was top three in her region for five years in a row, so we can expect good scores out of her," Aberle said. "As long as she's consistent, that's all we're looking for."
Men's golf team signs Stanley
Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood standout Waylon Stanley signed with the MSU men's golf team Wednesday, becoming the second member of the Beavers' 2012 recruiting class.
"He comes from a background of golfers, the Stanleys from the Sherwood area," coach Chipper Farrell said. "We're looking for Waylon to probably redshirt next year because we have so many seniors, but down the road, he should help us quite a bit."
Stanley joined early signee Karson O'Keefe, an incoming freshman from Blind Day, British Columbia.
Men's club soccer team in the works
Minot State will have a men's club soccer team in the fall, pending final budget approval by student government on Tuesday.
Ibrahim Aljaroodi, an MSU graduate student in education, worked to start the team after several students approached him to inquire about one. He will serve as head coach.
Players began meeting once a week about three months ago, and now 35 students practice multiple times a week. Aljaroodi said he'd like to get the team down to 30 members and begin recruiting athletes for future classes.
The team - which features players from five continents - is working to schedule opponents for the fall. Aljaroodi said his team isn't playing solely for recreation; it has talented players who take the game seriously.
"I'm looking forward for something else maybe bigger than (having fun)," Aljaroodi said. "I'm trying to make a team for Minot's city. I think Minot needed a soccer team because we have good players."